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Oklahoma urges HIV, hepatitis testing for 7,000 dentist patients in major health scare

7,000 patients in Tulsa, Oklahoma may be at risk of contracting AIDS or hepatitis, health officials say.

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7,000 people in Oklahoma may have been exposed to viruses that cause HIV or hepatitis during a dental visit, state authorities warned Thursday. (Chris Hondros/Getty Images)

Oklahoma health officials announced that 7,000 people in the city of Tulsa should be tested for HIV and hepatitis after "major violations" were discovered at the dental practice of Dr. W. Scott Harrington, reported Oklahoma's KOCO News.

Letters are being mailed to Harrington's 7,000 patients in and near Tulsa urging them to undergo testing immediately, said the Associated Press

Health officials said patients who were treated as far back as 2007 may be at risk, according to KOCO.

Harrington volunteered to close his practice and is cooperating with the investigation, according to the Tulsa Health Department, said KOCO

The Associated Press said Harrington's medical tools were not being thoroughly sanitized even though some of his patients had infectious diseases.

"It's uncertain how long those practices have been in place," Tulsa Health Department spokeswoman Kaitlin Snider told AP. "He's been practicing for 36 years."

Snider told The Los Angeles Times that authorities were alerted after one of his patient's contracted hepatitis B with no clear cause. After an investigation was launched, she said, officials discovered that his practice violated the state Dental Act on numerous points. 

Health tests for hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV are being offered free of charge, said KOCO, listing the following hotline for concerned locals: 918-595-4500.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/united-states/130328/oklahoma-urges-hiv-testing-7000-dentist-patients